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INDIVIDUAL INCOME TAX
Residency "Safe Harbors"
for Residents Spending Time Outside Maine

State outline

GUIDANCE DOCUMENT

Maine Revenue Services, Income/Estate Tax Division

Rev. January, 2013


As explained in the Maine Revenue Services Guidance to Residency Status, an individual who is domiciled in Maine is generally treated as a Maine resident for income tax purposes. However, Maine law provides that for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2007, certain individuals are not treated as resident individuals even though they are domiciled in Maine. These individuals may fall under either the "General Safe Harbor" exception to the normal rule or the "Foreign Safe Harbor" exception.

GENERAL SAFE HARBOR
(Group A Exception)


An individual who is domiciled in Maine will nevertheless be treated as a nonresident individual if he or she satisfies all three of the following requirements:

  • The individual did not maintain a permanent place of abode in Maine for the entire taxable year (it is presumed that you maintain a permanent place of abode in Maine if you are married or have minor children and your spouse (unless you are legally separated) and/or minor children reside in a permanent place of abode in Maine);
  • The individual maintained a permanent place of abode outside Maine for the entire taxable year; and
  • The individual spent no more than 30 days in the aggregate in Maine during the taxable year.

A "permanent place of abode" is a house, apartment, dwelling place or other residence that an individual maintains as his or her home, whether or not he or she owns it. The term does not include a seasonal camp or cottage that is used only for vacations, a hotel or motel room, or a dormitory room used by a student during the school year.

Where an individual domiciled in Maine claims that he or she should be treated as a nonresident individual for a specific taxable year, the burden of proof is on the individual to demonstrate that all three requirements of the general safe harbor have been satisfied.

An individual who is domiciled in Maine that meets all three requirements of the general safe harbor during the taxable year is treated as a nonresident individual for Maine income tax purposes for that taxable year. However, if during the taxable year all three requirements of the general safe harbor are not met, the individual is subject to Maine income tax as a resident individual for that year unless the individual meets the requirements of the foreign safe harbor.

Filing Returns: An individual who meets all three requirements of the general safe harbor during a taxable year may file a Maine income tax return as a "safe harbor" resident individual for that taxable year. Individuals qualifying under the safe harbor rule will be treated as a nonresident for Maine individual income tax purposes.

General Safe Harbor - Examples


Example 1: Paul, single, is a member of the U.S. armed forces stationed in Arizona. He lived in military housing in Arizona during the entire tax year. He did not maintain a permanent place of abode in Maine at any time during the tax year. While on leave, he stayed with relatives in Maine for 15 days. Because Paul meets all three requirements of the general safe harbor, he may file a Maine tax return as a "safe harbor" resident for that tax year.

Example 2:
Same as Example 1 above, except that Paul owned a home in Maine for the entire tax year. He did not rent the Maine home to anyone during the tax year. Because Paul maintained a permanent place of abode in Maine, he does not meet the requirements of the general safe harbor. He must file a Maine return as a resident for that tax year.

Example 3: Lindsey is a student attending college full-time in Massachusetts. Because Lindsey's parents are domiciled in Maine and claim her as a dependent on their Maine income tax return, Lindsey is also considered to be domiciled in Maine. She did not maintain a permanent place of abode in Maine. Lindsey is in a summer intern program and lives in a dormitory room on her college campus for the entire year. She did not spend more than 30 days in Maine during the year. Because Lindsey did not maintain a permanent place of abode outside Maine for the entire year (a dormitory may not be considered a permanent place of abode), she does not meet the requirements of the general safe harbor. She must file a Maine return as a resident for that tax year.

FOREIGN SAFE HARBOR
(Group B Exception)


An individual who is domiciled in Maine will nevertheless be treated as a "safe harbor" resident if he or she satisfies all three of the following requirements:

  • Within any period of 548 consecutive days (the "548-day period"), the individual is present in a foreign country (or countries) for at least 450 days;

    An individual may choose any period of 548 days that begins on or after January 1, 2007 in order to meet the requirements of the foreign safe harbor. Each 548-day period will only apply to the tax years included either partially or fully in the 548-day period. An individual cannot satisfy all three requirements of the foreign safe harbor until the 548-day period has concluded.

  • During the 548-day period, the individual is not present in Maine for more than 90 days and does not maintain a permanent place of abode in Maine at which the individual's spouse (unless the spouse is legally separated) or minor children are present for more than 90 days; and
  • During the portion of the 548-day period included in the taxable years during which the 548-day period begins and during the portion of the 548-day period included in the taxable year during which the 548-day period ends, the individual is, for each period, present in Maine for a number of days that does not exceed the result of the following calculation:

Step 1: Divide the number of days in the taxable year that are also included in the 548-day period by 548 to calculate the percentage to use in Step 2.

Step 2: Multiply 90 by the percentage computed in Step 1. If the number you calculate, as determined for each period, is equal to or greater than the number of days spent in Maine for each period, you have met this requirement.

Rounding Days: Round up to the next highest whole number all decimals that include .50 through .99. Round down to the next lowest whole number all decimals that include .01 through .49 (example 10.51 is rounded up to 11 while 10.47 is rounded down to 10).

Rounding Percentages: Round decimals to 4 places to calculate percentages (example .109489 is rounded to .1095 or 10.95%).

EXAMPLE: Taxpayer A's 548-day period begins September 1, 2010 and ends March 1, 2012. Taxpayer A's taxable year is based on a calendar year. The number of days in each taxable year included in the 548-day period is 122 days during 2010, 365 days during 2011 and 61 days during 2012. Taxpayer A spent less than 90 days in Maine during the 548-day period, including 15 days between September 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010 and 10 days between January 1, 2012 and March 1, 2012. Taxpayer A must make the following calculations for 2010 and 2012.

CALCULATION:

1) Compute the percentage of days in each taxable year included in the 548-day period.
2010: 122 days of the taxable year included in the 548-day period.
2012: 61 days of the taxable year included in the 548-day period.

The percentages are computed as follows:
2010: 122 548 = 22.26% [.2226]
2012: 61 548 = 11.13% [.1113]

2) For each period, multiply 90 by the percentage calculated in Step 1. Compare the result determined for each period with the actual number of days spent in Maine during the portion of the taxable year included in the 548-day period.

2010: 90 x 22.26% = 20 days (days spent in Maine during the portion of the 548-day period included in 2010 was 15)

2012: 90 x 11.13% = 10 days (days spent in Maine during the portion of the 548-day period included in 2012 was 10)

Because the number of days actually spent in Maine during the portion of the 548-day period included in 2010 (15 days) is not more than the number allowable for that period (20) and because the number of days actually spent in Maine during the portion of the 548-day period included in 2012 (10 days) is not more than the number allowable for that period (10), Taxpayer A has met this requirement. If, for either 2010 or 2012, Taxpayer A had spent more days in Maine than the number allowable for either period, Taxpayer A would not have met this requirement. For additional examples, see pages 6 through 8.

If you meet all of the foreign safe harbor requirements, the portion of the 548-day period included in each taxable year is known as the "safe harbor nonresident portion" of that taxable year. For purposes of determining the number of days present in Maine, count any part of a day spent in Maine as a whole day present in Maine, except for partial days you were in Maine solely in transit to a destination outside Maine.

Filing Returns: If you meet all three requirements of the foreign safe harbor, you will be:

  • A part-year resident for the taxable year in which the 548-day period begins. This assumes that you were a resident of Maine for the period of the taxable year prior to the beginning of the 548-day period and also assumes that the 548-day period does not begin on the first day of the taxable year (see nonresident discussion below);
  • A part-year resident for the taxable year in which the 548-day period ends. This assumes that you were a resident of Maine for the period of the taxable year after the end of the 548-day period and also assumes that the 548-day period does not end on the last day of the taxable year (see nonresident discussion below). See Example 2 below; and
  • A "safe harbor" resident treated as a nonresident for Maine tax purposes for any taxable year fully covered by the 548-day period. See Example 1 below. This will include the taxable year where the 548-day period begins on the first day of the taxable year or ends on the last day of the taxable year.

If the due date for filing your return is prior to the end of the 548-day period, you may, if you believe that you will ultimately meet all the requirements of the foreign safe harbor, either:

  1. File Maine income tax returns as a full-year resident of Maine for all taxable years included either partially or fully in the 548-day period and, if you ultimately meet all the requirements of the foreign safe harbor, file timely amended Maine income tax returns using the appropriate residency status for each tax year as discussed above; or
  2. If an extension is needed beyond the automatic 6-month extension for filing each return, apply for an extension of time to file each Maine income tax return affected by the 548-day period by submitting a letter explaining why additional time is being requested.

Note: An extension of time to file the Maine income tax return does not extend the time to pay the income tax due. To avoid or minimize the interest or penalty that might otherwise be owed if you do not ultimately meet all of the requirements of the foreign safe harbor, you may want to pay, on or before the original due date of the return, the amount of tax owed as a resident individual.

Foreign Safe Harbor - Examples


Example 1: Abe is domiciled in Maine. He is single. His taxable year is the calendar year. During the period November 2, 2010 through May 2, 2012 (a period of 548 consecutive days; 2012 is a leap year), he is present in a foreign country 480 days.

During the 548-day period, Abe was present in Maine a total of 65 days: 9 days during the period November 2, 2010 through December 31, 2010, 41 days during 2011 and 15 days during the period January 1, 2012 through May 2, 2012.

Because Abe was present in a foreign country 480 days, he meets the first requirement. Abe also meets the second requirement because he was present in Maine not more than 90 days during the 548-day period.

To find out whether Abe meets the third requirement, he must determine if the number of days present in Maine during the period November 2, 2010 through December 31, 2010 (9 days) exceeds the maximum number of days allowed for that period. The total number of days in the period November 2, 2010 through December 31, 2010 is 60.

The maximum number of days Abe may be present in Maine during the period November 2, 2010 through December 31, 2010 is 10, determined as follows:

Step 1: 60 days (November 2 - December 31) 548 = 10.95% [.1095]
Step 2: 90 x 10.95% = 10 days allowed in Maine for this period

Because Abe was present in Maine 9 days during the period November 2, 2010 through December 31, 2010, he did not exceed the maximum 10 days allowed for this period.

Abe must also determine if the number of days he was present in Maine during the period January 1, 2012 through May 2, 2012 (15 days) exceeds the maximum allowed for that period. The total number of days for the period January 1, 2012 through May 2, 2012 is 123.

The maximum number of days he may be present in Maine during the period January 1, 2012 through May 2, 2012 is 20, determined as follows:

Step 1: 123 days (January 1 - May 2) 548 = 22.45% [.2245]
Step 2: 90 x 22.45% = 20 days allowed in Maine for this period

Because Abe was present in Maine 15 days during the period January 1, 2012 through May 2, 2012, he did not exceed the maximum 20 days allowed for this period.

Abe meets all the requirements of the foreign safe harbor. Therefore, he may file as a part-year resident for the 2010 and 2012 tax year's (assuming that Abe was a resident of Maine for the remaining portion of each year) and as a "safe harbor" resident individual for the 2011 tax year.


Example 2:
Belinda is domiciled in Maine. Belinda is married and has two children. Her taxable year is the calendar year. Belinda is in the military and during the period July 3, 2011 through December 31, 2012 (a period of 548 consecutive days; 2012 is a leap year) she and her family were present in a foreign country 488 days.

During the 548-day period, Belinda and her family were present in Maine a total of 60 days: 20 days during the period July 3, 2011 through December 31, 2011 and 40 days during 2012.

Because Belinda was present in a foreign country 488 days, she meets the first requirement. Belinda and her family also meet the second requirement because they were present in Maine not more than 90 days during the 548-day period.

Belinda must also determine if the number of days she was present in Maine during the period of July 3, 2011 through December 31, 2011 (20 days) exceeds the maximum allowed for that period. The total number of days in the period July 3, 2011 through December 31, 2011 is 182 days.

The maximum number of days she may be present in Maine during the period July 3, 2011 through December 31, 2011 is 30, determined as follows:

Step 1: 182 days (July 3 - December 31) 548 = 33.21% [.3321]
Step 2: 90 x 33.21% = 30 days allowed in Maine for this period

Because Belinda was present in Maine 20 days during the period July 3, 2011 through December 31, 2011, she did not exceed the maximum 30 days allowed for this period.

Belinda must also determine if the number of days she was present in Maine during the period January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012 (40 days) exceeds the maximum allowed for that period. The total number of days for the period January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012 is 366.

The maximum number of days Belinda may be present in Maine during the period January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012 is 60, determined as follows:

Step 1: 366 days January 1 - December 31) 548 = 66.79% [.6679]
Step 2: 90 x 66.79% = 60 days allowed in Maine for this period

Because Belinda was present in Maine 40 days during the period January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012, she did not exceed the maximum of 60 days allowed for this period.

Belinda meets all the requirements of the foreign safe harbor. Therefore, she may file as a part-year resident for the 2011 tax year (assuming that she was a resident of Maine for the remaining portion of the year) and as a "safe harbor" resident individual for the 2012 tax year.

If Belinda spent more than 90 days in Maine during the 548-day period or if Belinda's spouse or children spent more than 90 days in Maine during the 548-day period at a home she maintained as a permanent place of abode, she would not have met the requirements of the foreign safe harbor. If this were the case, Belinda would be required to file as a resident individual for all tax years involved.


Example 3: Chad is domiciled in Maine. Chad is single. His taxable year is the calendar year. During the period August 1, 2010 through January 30, 2012 (a period of 548 consecutive days), he was present in a foreign country 470 days.

During the 548-day period, Chad was present in Maine a total of 54 days: 15 days during the period August 1, 2010 through December 31, 2010, 33 days during 2011 and 6 days during the period January 1, 2012 through January 30, 2012.

Because Chad was present in a foreign country 470 days, he meets the first requirement. Chad also meets the second requirement because he was present in Maine not more than 90 days during the 548-day period.

Chad must determine if the number of days he was present in Maine during the period August 1, 2010 through December 31, 2010 (15 days) exceeds the maximum allowed for that period. The total number of days in the period August 1, 2010 through December 31, 2010 is 153.

The maximum number of days Chad may be present in Maine during the period August 1, 2010 through December 31, 2010 is 25, determined as follows:

Step 1: 153 days (August 1 - December 31) 548 = 27.92% [.2792]
Step 2: 90 x 27.92% = 25 days allowed in Maine for this period

Because Chad was present in Maine 15 days during the period August 1, 2010 through December 31, 2010, he did not exceed the maximum of 25 days allowed for this period.

Chad must also determine if the number of days he was present in Maine during the period January 1, 2012 through January 30, 2012 (6 days) exceeds the maximum allowed for that period. The total number of days for the period January 1, 2012 through January 30, 2012 is 30.

The maximum number of days Chad may be present in Maine during the period January 1, 2012 through January 30, 2012 is 5, determined as follows:

Step 1: 30 days (January 1 - January 30) 548 = 5.47% [.0547]
Step 2: 90 x 5.47% = 5 days allowed in Maine for this period

Because Chad was present in Maine for 6 days during the period January 1, 2012 through January 30, 2012, he exceeds the maximum of 5 days allowed for this period and fails to meet the third requirement of the foreign safe harbor. Therefore, he must file as a resident individual for each of the 2010, 2011 and 2012 tax years.

For more information, contact Maine Revenue Services:
Income/Estate Tax Division, 24 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0024
Call: (207) 626-8475 Email: income.tax@maine.gov